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  • Jelly Roll
  • Written by Kevin Young
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375709890
  • Our Price: $18.00
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Jelly Roll

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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poetry (27)
poetry (27)
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In this jaunty and intimate collection, Kevin Young invents a language as shimmying and comic, as low-down and high-hearted, as the music from which he draws inspiration. With titles such as “Stride Piano,” “Gutbucket,” and “Can-Can,” these poems have the sharp completeness of vocalized songs and follow a classic blues trajectory: praising and professing undying devotion (“To watch you walk / cross the room in your black / corduroys is to see / civilization start”), only to end up lamenting the loss of love (“No use driving / like rain, past / where you at”). As Young conquers the sorrow left on his doorstep, the poems broaden to embrace not just the wisdom that comes with heartbreak but the bittersweet wonder of triumphing over adversity at all.

Sexy and tart, playfully blending an African American idiom with traditional lyric diction, Young’s voice is pure American: joyous in its individualism and singing of the self at its strongest.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

"Chorale"

Quite difficult, belief.
Quite terrible, faith

that the night, again,
will nominate

you a running mate–
that we are of the elect

& have not yet
found out. That the tide

still might toss us up
another–what eyes

& stars, what teeth!
such arms, alive–

someone we will, all
night, keep. Not

just these spiders
that skitter & cobweb,

share my shivering bed.

-----------------------------------------------

"Ditty"

You, rare as Georgia
snow. Falling

hard. quick.
Candle shadow.

The cold
spell that catches

us by surprise.
The too-early blooms,

tricked, gardenias blown about,
circling wind. Green figs.

Nothing stays. I want
to watch you walk

the hall to the cold tile
bathroom--all

night, a lifetime.

**Click here to send this poem as an animated ecard:
http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/ecards/young/ecard.html

-----------------------------------------------

"Harvest Song"

Lover you leave me
autumn, tilling, a man

tending his yard,
or one not even

his own. Outskirts
of town a farmer

one-armed, walks his fields
into fire--my neighbor

on his knees with a razor
trims his lawn. Next door

I am in the pines--
grass thirsting, and up

to here in weeds--
poison, neglect,

I have tried to forget--
nothing works. Let

the birds rabbits
termites have the run

of the place, the worms,
I will take them in

-----------------------------------------------

"Elegy, Niagara Falls"
for Bert King, d. 1996

Here snow starts
but does not
stick--stay--

is not enough
to cover
the bare thaw--

ed ground.
Grief is the god that gets us--

good--in the end--
Here--churches
let out

early--in time
to catch the lunch
special--at my local

hotel. Sunday--
even the bus
boy has your

face. And still
having heard
some days later you

were dead--
I haven't caught
sight--day


From the Hardcover edition.
Kevin Young

About Kevin Young

Kevin Young - Jelly Roll

Photo © Melanie Dunea - CPi

Kevin Young is the author of six previous collections of poetry and editor of five others. Jelly Roll was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and won the Paterson Poetry Prize; For the Confederate Dead won the 2007 Quill Award for poetry. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a United States Artists James Baldwin Fellowship, Young is currently the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.

Praise

Praise

“It is one thing to acknowledge that the blues are a kind of poetry, but another to produce a book of authentic poetry that constitutes a new kind of blues. Tender, sassy, and just plain cool, the poems in Kevin Young’s Jelly Roll uniquely twine together the roots of both music and language. You can almost hear the three chords in the background.”
—Billy Collins

“In Young’s alchemy, succulent scraps are gathered from daily life, distilled, and emerge, finally, as portable nuggets of home, carried wherever the poet may travel.”
Voice Literary Supplement

“This poet’s gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American.”
—Lucille Clifton

“As a poet, Young is as dazzlingly agile and as hard-hitting as Jack Johnson in his prime.”
—Lorenzo Thomas

“Young takes the great African-American tradition of speaking the pain of love and tosses it gracefully into the air, flips it, twists it, catches it and sets it on its feet again . . . the poems [are] uncannily filled with wit and self-awareness, alive to their very bones, sexy and sad and true . . . Like any great blues, Young’s is universal.”
–Time Out New York

“Young has created a joyful and sorrowing and very funny narrative of love found and lost and selfhood ruefully gained amid the ruins . . . wonderful, linguistically inventive poems in which the old is made new again.”
–Fredric Koeppel, Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Impressive . . . Young uses the blues as a template, fusing popular music and black vernacular and thereby placing himself squarely in the African-American poetic tradition pioneered by such writers as Langston Hughes.”
–David Mills, Washington Post Book World

“Kevin Young has, at age 32, already conquered the heights of the poetry world . . . To its tradition of strong American poets, from Emerson to Eliot to Ashbery, Harvard College can now add Young.”
–George Held, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Enormously refreshing . . . You can hear the sound of this voice alive on the vivid page.”
–Mark Jarman, The Hudson Review


“Splendidly inventive and evocative.”
–Fredric Koeppel, Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Young [is] not only a terrific love poet but one of real emotional variety . . . Young has daringly likened himself . . . to Langston Hughes: this versatile lyric tour de force may well justify the ambitious comparison.”
–Publishers Weekly


“Intimate . . . Young’s utilitarian use of language is often amazing in its ability to convey so much with so few words.”
–Regis Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune

“Young maintains the essence of the blues . . . while reshaping them into vibrant form. . . If blues musician Robert Johnson had collaborated with haiku master Basho, the result might have been Jelly Roll.”
–John Hawn, Indianapolis Star

“A rollicking book of poems filled with calls, hollers and shouts . . . This book rocks and it rolls.”
–David Citino, Columbus Dispatch

“Impressive . . . Young uses the blues as a template, fusing popular music and black vernacular and thereby placing himself squarely in the African-American poetic tradition pioneered by such writers as Langston Hughes.”
–David Mills, Washington Post Book World

“Kevin Young has, at age 32, already conquered the heights of the poetry world . . . To its tradition of strong American poets, from Emerson to Eliot to Ashbery, Harvard College can now add Young.”
–George Held, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Enormously refreshing . . . You can hear the sound of this voice alive on the vivid page.”
–Mark Jarman, The Hudson Review


From the Hardcover edition.

  • Jelly Roll by Kevin Young
  • February 01, 2005
  • Poetry
  • Knopf
  • $18.00
  • 9780375709890

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